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Chapter 6: Hints and Tricks

Use F1, not ESCAPE.
Due to the limitations of the techniques used when communicating with a terminal, it is not possible to ``decide'' that the user pressed the ESCAPE key for about a second after the actual key press (see EscapeTime). This means that you will experiment annoying delays when using menus. If you have no F1 key, redefine a keystroke assigning the command Escape, and you will be able to use that keystroke instead of ESCAPE.
Check for the presence of a META key.
If your system has a standard META or ALT key, there is a good chance that you have another thirty shortcuts or so. See Configuration.
ne does tilda expansion.
When you have to specify a file name, you can always start with `~/' in order to specify your home directory, or `~user/' in order to specify the home directory of another user.
The ESCAPE delay when activating menus can be avoided.
If you press after ESCAPE any key which does not produce the second character of an escape sequence, ne will immediately recognize the ESCAPE key code as such. Since non-alphabetical keys have no effect while browsing through the menus, if you're forced to use ESCAPE as menu activator you can press, for instance, `,' just after it in order to speed up the menu activation (note that `:' would not work, because it would activate the command line).
Use turbo mode for lengthy operations.
Turbo mode (see Turbo) allows to perform very complex operation without updating the screen up to the end. This can be a major plus if you are editing very long files, or if your terminal is slow. If the default value (twice the number of lines of the screen) does not give you the best results, experiment other values.
Regular expressions are powerful, and slow.
Regular expressions must be studied very carefully. If you spend a lot of time doing editing, it is definitely reasonable to study even their most esoteric features. Very complex editing actions can be performed by a single find/replace using the \n convention. But remember always that regular expressions are much slower than a normal search.
Use the right movement commands in a macro.
Many boring, repetitive editing actions can be performed in a breeze by recording them the first time. Remember, however, that while recording a complex macro you should always use a cursor movement that will apply in a different context. For instance, if you are copying a word, you cannot move with cursor keys, because that word at another application of the macro could be of a different length. Rather, use the next/previous word keys and the MoveEOW command, which guarantee a correct behaviour in all situations.
Some preferences can be preserved even with automatic preferences.
When you save an autoprefs file, the file simply contains a macro which, when executed, produces the current configuration. However, you could want, for instance, to never change the insert/overwrite state. In this case, just edit with ne the autoprefs files and delete the line containing the command setting the insert flag. When the autoprefs will be loaded, the insert flag will be left untouched. This trick is particularly useful with the StatusBar and FastGUI commands.
If some keystrokes do not work, check for system-specific features.
Sometimes it can happen that a keystroke does not work---for instance, CONTROL-O does not open a file. This usually is due to the kernel tracking that key for its purposes. For instance, along a telnet connection with xon/xoff flow control, CONTROL-S and CONTROL-Q would block and release the output instead of saving and quitting.

In these cases, if you do not need the system feature you should check how to disable it: for instance, some BSD-like systems feature a delayed suspend signal which is not in the POSIX standard, and thus cannot be disabled by ne. On HP-UX, the command `stty dsusp ^-' would disable the signal, and would let the control sequence previously assigned to it to run up to ne.

Another example is the NCSA Telnet software for the Macintrash. Unless you modify your setting in such a way to disable CONTROL-S and CONTROL-Q as flow controllers, you will not be able to use them as keystrokes (even if ne is doing all it can in order to explain to the software that it does not need xon/xoff flow control...).

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